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NEWS | April 16, 2013

On the move: Buying and selling a house

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This is the second in a four-part series about moving in the military.

Congratulations! You just received permanent change of station orders and met with the Travel Management Office to arrange shipment of household goods. One of the next items on the agenda may be selling your house, and finding a new one at your next duty station.

Home buying and selling may seem like a stressful and daunting process, however there are some preliminary steps to help make it a smooth transition.

Rebecca Austin, Fort Eustis home buying and selling seminar workshop instructor and local realtor, said if you're selling a house, you need to get it ready for sale and on the market as soon as possible.

Spring and summer are the busiest times for house hunting, and there are some specific things that people can do to help improve their chances of a quick sale:

· Make sure your house is priced competitively with other similar homes in the area.
· Make sure your "curb appeal" is at its best. Have the home's exterior power washed, keep the lawn mowed and any shrubbery groomed, and ensure the property is free of garbage or clutter.
· Ensure the inside of the house is clean and organized. Put away unused appliances and excess photos, and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
· For homeowners with pets, shampoo the carpets and keep them clean.
· The kitchen and bath are the two biggest selling points in a home, so people should focus on those areas if they plan on doing any renovations.

"Think of what you would want to see when viewing a house," said Austin. "Think about what you would be looking for if you were considering purchasing a home."

Once the house is ready for the market, it's time to interview realtors; one to sell the house and the other to help purchase a new home. However, people need to find a realtor who best fits them.

But with so many out there, where do you start?

"Ask a local realtor for a referral. In order for a realtor to be part of a referral program, they have to meet certain requirements, so you know you will be getting an experienced agent," Austin said. "You can also talk to friends or family that live in the area for a referral to someone they have used."

Once a person finds a realtor, they should find out if the agent has work hours that fit their needs.

"It's important that you find someone you can trust and that will work hard for you," said Austin. "Your realtor represents you and your offers to the seller, and is your go-between all the way to the closing table."

When buying your next home, tell your realtor the following guidelines ahead of time to find the right home faster:
· What area are you looking in, or how close to the base are you are looking to live.
· Price range, and if you're currently approved for a home loan. Know how much you're comfortable spending every month on your mortgage.
· Are you looking for something brand new or something you can renovate?
· Specific features you're looking for (counter types, interior layout, style of home, etc.).

The more information you can provide your realtor, the better off you will be, Austin advised.

For some, it may be easier to start the search without a realtor. Websites like are sponsored by the Department of Defense, and allow you to do some house hunting yourself. You're able to view listings of off-base rentals, on-base or privatized housing, temporary lodging, Service member shared rentals and military homes for sale by owner.

Following these guidelines and consulting with a realtor will help to ensure the home-buying or selling process goes smoothly and efficiently. Armed with these tools, the last step will be adding a sold sign to the old house, and a welcome mat to the new one.